A Rolls Royce of a defender. Never was a cliche more apt than to describe James Chester, a fabulous servant to Hull City for four and a half years and perhaps the most gifted defender we have witnessed for a generation or two. He joined City in January 2011, a key building block in Nigel Pearson’s oft-overlooked rebuilding programme. From the off there was something special about Chester – unflappable, an incredible tackler, impassable when one-on-one and from time to time an eye for goal. His defending was pivotal in City’s rise to the Premier League under Steve Bruce and Chessy reached the world stage in May 2014 when he returned from a hamstring injury to score the unlikely, lung-deflating opener in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal, then weeks later make his international debut for Wales. His last two seasons were punctuated by spells of injury and when City tumbled out of the top flight in 2015 it was time for Chester to move on. But what a player, what a servant, and what a gentleman.
Warrington-born James Grant Chester was associated with Manchester United from the age of 8, he made his Red Devils debut in 2009 in the improbable setting of a League Cup Semi-Final second leg against Derby County, a first leg shellacking having encouraged United to field a team of younger stars in the routine second leg. He subsequently had three loan spells, the third of which at Carlisle saw his rise to prominence that attracted Hull City’s interest.
As City were relegated from the Premier League Chester stayed in the top flight signing for West Bromwich Albion. But his spell at The Hawthorns was to last only a single season and featured 19 senior appearances as Baggies’ boss Tony Pulis failed to find a regular berth for the elegant Chester in his first team full of lunking giants. In August 2016 Chester moved to Aston Villa, reunited with his former City boss Steve Bruce, where resumed regular first team duties with calm assuredness. In three seasons he scored 12 times in 126 appearances for the Villa before a serious injury hampered his game time under Bruce and also under his successor Dean Smith, who managed to take Villa back to the Premier League in 2019. In January 2020 Chester joined Stoke City on loan, a move that was made permanent in August 2020. Resuming a first team berth, Chester made 71 appearances in two and a half seasons before leaving Stoke in the 2022 close season and signing for financially crippled Derby County in July 2022.
Although also qualified for the England national side, Chester plumped for Wales in June 2014, qualifying through his mother’s birthplace, and made his senior debut in a 0-2 defeat to the Netherlands. Over the next four years he was a Wales regular and amassed 35 international caps, the last of which came in a November 2018 Nations League tie against Denmark.
Date/Place of Birth: 23 January 1989, Warrington
Hull City First Game: 15 January 2011, Barnsley H (Championship), 21 years, 357 days old
Hull City Final Game: 24 May 2015, Manchester United H (Premier League), 26 years, 121 days old
Manchester United (2005-2011), Peterborough United (2009, loan), Plymouth Argyle (2009, loan), Carlisle United (2010-2011, loan), Hull City (2011-2015), West Bromwich Albion (2015-2016), Aston Villa (2016-2020), Stoke City (2020, loan), Stoke City (2020-2022), Derby County (2022-current)
Hull City Record
Career: 171 apps, 8 goalsJames Chester
|2011/12||44 (0)||2||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2012/13||43 (1)||1||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2013/14||22 (2)||1||4 (1)||1||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2014/15||23 (0)||2||-||-||1 (0)||0||4 (0)||0||-||-|